Mindfulness is one of those things that popped out of nowhere in recent years and has taken the world by storm. It is an incredibly effective approach to calming one’s thoughts, gain control over them, and learn to use them effectively. Mindfulness is incredibly useful in relationships because this awareness of thoughts helps you know how and when to connect better with your spouse, colleagues, employees, family, and others around you. For many people, mindfulness is a new experience and can be difficult, so, here are 8 excellent ways that help you initiate this journey if it is new to you.
Closing your eyes and going into a deep meditation whilst simply maintaining focus isn’t the easiest thing that can be done, and as we know, meditation is often the way that can aid you in becoming more mindful But most people don’t get into it quickly. They need other activities that could give them a glimpse of what the state of mindfulness is before their mind could actually tell them ‘hey! I like it, and I want more of it! Now let’s meditate”.
Learn a new language
Awareness, the main ingredient of mindfulness, requires us sometimes to suspend our own beliefs of ourselves and the environment to be able to experience something new. When you learn a new language you don’t just learn the words, you actually immerse yourself into the way of thinking of another culture. When I was learning the Italian language (whilst living in Italy), I discovered that I couldn’t speak Italian by translating the words in English to Italian in my mind. The sentences sounded weird. I had to think, move, and talk like an Italian to learn to speak it better. It’s why I was able to learn the dialect in a month and the language in 6. While doing so, I was more aware of how I thought, felt, and behaved. To me, that was an amazing glimpse into mindfulness.
When it comes to traveling to new cities and countries you will often notice how people live differently. Such an experience can truly park aside your day to day patterns of thinking – let alone feelings – and begin to just wander in awe at the new environment’s details you’re visiting. Travel is a fantastic way to give you a bite-sized experience of mindfulness. Imagine visiting a Buddhist temple for the first time. Take in that environment fully. Wouldn’t you just become aware in that moment of how your thoughts and feelings? Wouldn’t you document/journal them? That is mindfulness at its genesis.
The word “focus” is synonymous today with “mindfulness” and “awareness”. In fact, it is claimed to be a direct result and benefit of this state of mind. But what if you could reverse the formula, create focus now, and experience mindfulness in some way through exercise? It is quite possible. A good work-out that squeezes every drop of sweat out of you will force you to focus on your breathing, movement, thinking, and even feelings. Take up a routine of exercising and you’ll be sure to raise your level of awareness physically and mentally in no time.
I separated this activity from the previous one simply because it is actually a kind of meditation itself. Many gurus today swear by walking meditation and encourage people to have it as a daily practice for mindfulness. When walking, slow down, breathe with each step, and you’ll see what thoughts go through your mind and what your physical movement can do to them. Running is very similar, except the pace is faster. Many of my friends who are marathoners have stated that running a marathon or preparing for one has a lot to do with awareness, focus, and a form of meditation where their minds stop the chatter and begin to hone down on the goal at hand. Couple that with a breathing pace matching the running speed and you’ve got mindfulness in the making.
I was once at a meditation retreat in Turkey with friends, and our trainer proposed for us to talk jibberish for a number of minutes without holding back. It was an interesting idea because it meant we would have to interrupt our thinking patterns and switch to complete nonsense; something our minds don’t like in this busy world. But then I stumbled upon laughter yoga and found that it had the same concept, except t was focused on laughter. As uncomfortable the process was, the result was the same. Plus, who doesn’t like laughter? As Pringles put it, once you pop, you can’t stop.
The very lateral movement for minutes while focusing on different points on one or many pieces of clothes is an excellent way for becoming mindful. Have you ever heard someone say “ironing my clothes is a form of therapy”? That’s because you are so focused on doing one thing and only one thing to the point that your control over your thoughts and emotions turns into joy. Everything you were thinking in that moment starts to play in the background rather than the foreground, and for some reason nothing really matters anymore. Same goes for painting, by the way.
This activity requires no physical effort, but it can help initiate your mindfulness journey. Despite how you might thinking mindfulness through meditation is difficult thing to do, you actually do it daily without noticing. The difference is that true mindfulness from meditation requires attention. Daydreaming doesn’t. But becoming aware that you are daydreaming gives your brain the signal that you are aware that you’re “not here”. Exercising that mental activity helps you practice being aware.
Empathize with someone else
Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes can be – sometimes – one of the best ways to become mindful. If you’re having a hard time being mindful of your own world, be mindful of somebody else’s. Why is this helpful? Because empathize requires curiosity, and curiosity is one skill that most people today have a hard time accepting the practice of. With time, I hope, you give yourself that kind of curiosity so that you can step into the shoes of your own world as a way to become mindful of what happens in there.
With these 8 points mentioned, remember that these are by no means ways of directly becoming mindful. Mindfulness requires a practice of a form of meditation. But the above 8 points are merely “tasters” for such a state of mind so that you can be enticed to let go of any resistance you may have when beginning of a true practice that yields mindfulness.